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Dudley Council could be forced to make cuts due to coronavirus crisis

By George Makin | Dudley | News | Published:

Dudley could be forced to make sweeping cuts in council services as the cost of Covid-19 continues to rise.

The authority has joined with others in the Black Country in saying Government aid is being outstripped by the pandemic’s financial impact.

The council has said it faces spending an extra £8.4 million this year.

Ahead of a cabinet meeting next week, Councillor Steve Clark, said the vast majority of Government aid can’t be used by the council – leaving it with £19 million to fight Covid-19.

He said: “As a council we have received over £140 million from the government to help people in the borough deal with the fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic.

"That support has been very gratefully received – but over 85 per cent of that cash is ring-fenced and is for specific purposes, such as business grants."

He added: "It is unclear at this stage whether the £19.1 million we received to offset our extra spending and reduced income as an authority will be enough to cover what we’ve had to pay out.

"There is a very real risk that it won’t be, and that we will have to use reserves to cover the difference. That is always a last resort, and is unsustainable for anything other than a short period of time.

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"We will continue to monitor the financial situation against an ever-changing backdrop, and may need to identify additional savings from next year."

The fear councils will have to return to large scale cuts has been highlighted by Dudley’s neighbouring authorities in recent weeks.

In May, Walsall Council’s finance chiefs warned additional costs could be hit £30 million by the end of the year.

In the same month, Sandwell Council leader Yvonne Davies called for more cash as the authority predicted it will spend £2.8 million above its £21.5 million emergency funding.

George Makin

By George Makin

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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